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July 2003-July 2010InteractiveDig Sagalassos
The location of the church (in the background) on the west side of the Lower Agora, which after the construction of the temple had become so to speak a forecourt of the shrine, as was the case with several other temples related to the emperor's cult.
View of the church replacing the Temple of Apollo Klarios at the beginning of this year's campaign
Same view after internal cleaning and while the road is being prepared for the crane
The crane enters the basilica for the first time
View from the West inside the church after initial clearing of the vegetation
View of the collapsed structure of the eastern interior colonnade once supporting the southern gallery
Door. lintel (?) dated to the Augustan phase of the temple

Photos courtesy Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project. Click on images to enlarge.
by Marc Waelkens

The Church in the Apollo Klarios Shrine

The former sanctuary of Apollo Klarios is situated to the west of the Lower Agora on top of a natural hill, which was enlarged toward the west with impressive buttressed terrace walls in polygonal masonry. Originally, a temple was situated within the sacred precinct, an area of nearly 59 by 52 meters. The architectural remains visible on the terrace or reused inside the Christian church indicate that this was probably an Ionic peripteros with unfluted columns, surrounding a central sanctuary or cella. The cella measured 13.50 by 24.75 meters, and was situated on top a temple podium. Antae blocks (the projecting long sides of the cella, on either side of its four columns) connect to a distylos in antis-cella. On top of the Ionic capitals of the peristasis (external colonnade), an entablature consisting of an architrave, a pulvinated frieze, and a cornice, all undecorated except for false lion spouts on the cornice, supported a steep undecorated gable. The temple was surrounded by a Doric temenos wall, interrupted by large Ionic windows and several gates. The main gates are situated on the northeast and east side. They were accessible from the main east-west, partially colonnaded road, which runs on a terrace above the Lower Agora in between the late Hadrianic Nymphaeum (see Hadrianic Nymphaeum: July 4-August 19, 2004) and the Trajanic/Severan Nymphaeum.

The remains of this sanctuary, which has been the subject of a 1988 architectural survey and 2005 archaeological test soundings (see Apollo Klarios: July 17-August 24, 2005), indicate that it was changed several times throughout its existence. Based on the decoration of certain architectural elements, its original layout, consisting of the cella and the temenos wall, could be dated to the reign of the emperor Augustus. There existed a close association between the emperor and Apollo, for whom Augustus built a magnificent temple on the Palatine at Rome, directly connected to his own house. There were two reasons for this association. First, Augustus believed that the victories over Caesar's murderers, and over Mark Antony and Kleopatra, were due to the protection of Apollo. Second, the cult of Apollo was officially promoted as representative of the virtues (pietas) and values of the old Greek and Roman civilization, as opposed to the debauchery of Mark Antony and the East, symbolized by Dionysos. Therefore, the construction of this temple may have represented an implicit Imperial worship, which later on, during the reign of Vespasian, resulted in the establishment of a real Imperial cult at Sagalassos--in this very sanctuary. This cult was established by the grandfather of T. Flavius Severianus Neon, the richest citizen of Sagalassos in Hadrianic times. The grandfather was the first of his family to be granted Roman citizenship, most probably because of his introduction of the emperor's cult.

Except for the finely finished ashlars, most building elements belonged to the restoration of the temple. Some decorated parts of doors illustrate the fine craftsmanship that went into constructing the shrine. The choice of this location for the building was certainly not a coincidence. In many Eastern Mediterranean cities, temples dedicated to Augustus (Stratonikeia in Caria; the later temple for the Julio-Claudii at Corinth, the Temple of Domitian at Ephesos) were placed, like this one, on terraces overlooking the agoras, so that the agora became a kind of forecourt of the shrine. Elsewhere, temples were placed in the center of the agoras (the Temple of Ares on the agora at Athens, the Temple for Roma and the Divine Caesar at Ephesos), which transformed these squares into temenoi (temple courtyards) for the shrines. At Sagalassos, the Apollo Klarios Temple stood so close to the back wall of the Lower Agora's west portico that its front completely dominated the square below, turning the Lower Agora into a kind of temple forecourt.

A major renovation of the temple, after the disastrous earthquake, involved the construction of a new peristasis for the current columns and the plain entablature, as well as the placement of marble wall veneer (skoutlosis in Greek) inside. This second phase could be dated to A.D. 103-104, based on the building inscription seen and recorded by the Polish Count Karl Lanckoronski in the 1880s. This places the inauguration of the restored shrine during the term of a governor named Proculus.

At some point in time, the sanctuary went out of use. Considering the fate of the other pagan temples in Sagalassos, this probably occurred at the end of the fourth century A.D. In the late fifth or early sixth century A.D., the abandoned peripteral temple was converted into a Christian tripartite transept-basilica, with a length of 31.30 meters and a width of 16.60 meters. Most of the architectural elements from the former sanctuary were reused. The ashlars of pronaos and naos (the anteroom and the cella) were reused to build the outer walls of the apse, the transept, and most of the basilica's long sides. As more ashlars were needed now than in the original sanctuary, even the ashlars and slabs of the krepis (the stepped podium upon which the temple once stood) were completely dismantled for building the western extremity of the church.

[image] View from the West of the western side of the church after cleaning toward the partially excavated transept of 2005 (see erected column)

The colonnades on the building's shorter eastern and western sides were dismantled, and the longer colonnades on the north and south were used to create three aisles separated by two rows of 11 columns. Over those 3 meter-wide side aisles was a gallery, as can be seen from the beam holes in the columns (see Apollo Klarios: August 14-18, 2005). At the same time, the walls of the cella were dismantled and the stones reused in the construction of new walls built outside the colonnade. In this manner, the building was literally turned inside out. A small transept, only 1.5 meters wider than the nave, was inserted near the eastern end of the basilica, which was closed by a polygonal apse. This space was accessible from the east by means of a door in the east wall. Preceding the apse was a bema, or altar podium, measuring 5.63 meters. The altar area was closed off by a chancel screen consisting of white marble piers holding white marble plates with relief decoration, while its floor was originally covered with marble slabs laid in a mortar bed. Judging by the large amounts of marble slabs, glass tesserae, and fragments of painted wall plaster found in the excavated deposits, the walls of the building were decorated with crustae, or wall veneering, glass mosaics, and frescos. Such slabs were also placed against the east wall of the transept within the bema area, as indicated by in situ remains. The floor of the northern part of the transept was covered with limestone slabs. To the west, the nave was preceded by a narthex (lobby area). A small courtyard extended to the west and opened to the north through a doorway.

Contrary to what was previously assumed, the excavations of last campaign indicated that the church was not completely destroyed by the earthquake of the 640s and then abandoned, like many buildings in the city. In fact, the basilica was last used in the tenth--twelfth centuries A.D. At that time, the entrance to the transept in the east wall of the building, as well as the entrance at the end of the northern side aisle, was sealed off by with a wall. This church did not have the same luxurious appearance as its Late Roman predecessor. Parts of bema plaques and piers were found in the later floor substrate, as well as in the foundation of the wall closing off the northern side aisle, indicating that the original chancel screen was no longer in place. Also, the lavish wall decoration must have disappeared by then, as the walls were now covered with simple white wall plaster, which still is preserved in patches on the north and east wall. Possibly at this time, or perhaps upon the abandonment of the building, the marble floor cover of the bema was removed, leaving only traces along the edges. At the same time, the original floor in the northern part of the transept was broken to be replaced by a floor of beaten earth. These changes indicate the church had been out of use for some time by then.

Associated with this mid-Byzantine phase of the church is the concentration of burials in the area immediately to the south of church, which can be identified as a kind of churchyard cemetery (see Apollo Klarios: July 17-21, 2005 and August 7-11, 2005). The origin of this necropolis is unclear, but at least one grave could be dated to the mid-Byzantine period. Other graves had been disturbed and the bones partially reburied together in a single tomb, when a domestic structure was built against the south wall of the church. The latter not only remained in use, it also became a focus for occupation on the hill in the Middle Byzantine period, as indicated by the structures unearthed during the last campaign to the south of the building. Together with the largely contemporaneous fortified village inside the former shrine for Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, and the remains of a mid-Byzantine church-turned-fortress on top of the Alexander Hill, this identifies mid-Byzantine Sagalassos as a typical kastron settlement. A kastron settlement was one located inside former Roman ruins, with a fortified nucleus, that still carried the name of the old site, with some smaller hamlets located around churches elsewhere in the former city.

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